Today’s post is all about how to make the binding for your quilt. The binding is the fabric that wraps around the raw edge of the quilt layers to finish them off.
Many pattern will tell you exactly how much binding fabric you will need. This can be coordinating fabric in one color or print, or a number of scraps cut to size.
For most quilts, you will cut strips the width of the fabric by 2.5″ wide. I have never used wider binding and the only times I use narrower binding is on small wall hangings where the binding would look too wide.
Lay out your binding fabric and fold carefully so it is on the straight grain. Trim the cut edge straight.
Measure in 2.5″ with your ruler, lining up the folded edges with the lines on your ruler. I do line up the fabric with the lines on my mat, but only to ensure the fabric is square.
For the second cut, I line up my ruler at 5″. This way I know both strips are accurate. If you do not have a wide ruler like mine, you can keep cutting 2.5″ strips.
If you are cutting multiple strips, stop and check every few strips to ensure they are still being cut straight. Fabric can shift, maybe it was not folded exactly square. You can see how near the fold, the cut veers off. This needs to be refolded and squared up again before the next strip is cut.
I still use strips like this as long as they are not too far off. You can also cut here and straighten the new cut line. It means more seams, but straighter binding.
If you are working with a pattern it will tell you how many strips to cut from the fabric. If you are winging it or making your own sized quilt, there’s an easy way to figure out how many strips without using any MATH.
Lay the quilt top on the floor. Lay out the strips around the quilt, overlap a little. It doesn’t matter exactly how much, we’re going for “close enough”. I fold around the corners.
You can see from the image that 6 strips are almost enough, and I have cut a seventh strip. This should be plenty! I don’t have to cut any more strips. Whew!
Now it’s time to join the strips. Lay one strip down right side up. Lay another end right side DOWN and at 90 degrees, like this:
I haven’t trimmed off the selvedges because we will cut them off later sewing this line I’ve marked. We are joining the strips on the bias for a neater finish and less bulk in the finished product.
Mark the seam if you like. After a few hundred times you may feel confident to line them up like this and just sew, without marking or pinning. I chain piece mine, grabbing the end of one I just sewed and adding a new strip on top. Offsetting a little like this makes it clear where to stop and start sewing.
Once you have sewn all strips together, trim off the extra triangles of fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam.
Now it’s time to press! Start at one end and line up the long raw edges a bit at a time, pressing in place.
Here’s a nice neat spot all pressed, showing a seam join and how flat it is.
For added joy, roll into a nice neat roll. Isn’t it pretty?
Now it’s all ready to go when your quilt is all quilted and ready to bind! We will tackle how to machine sew on binding in another post.